Two years to the day – and then some!
Is it any wonder that developers are driven into the arms of Government Inspectors? It is not surprising to some that the council’s planning function is threatened by being taken into Special Measures.
Last night the eastern area planning committee sat to determine a scheme for 12 Cranleigh homes, some shared ownership and some for rent, as an extension to the existing Cala Homes development in Amlets Lane, using the same access – and they deferred it for more information!
So, in other words – after two years, a scheme that has languished in the darkest bowels of Waverley’s Planning department has now been deferred for – yep, you guessed …
“more information and for a new council to determine.”
However, when the committee gets the developer information it requires, if it hasn’t pulled its hair out from the roots, a completely new committee will consider it following the May elections.
It could be July, perhaps even August, or maybe longer – why rush? The Waverley Web can’t understand why developers don’t just go straight to appeal on the grounds of non-determination and seek the return of their planning fees.
Although the site plan shown to councillors included access from the new development through the existing Amlets Park entrance, there were 20 minutes of debate on where the new access would be. You couldn’t make it up!
Cllr Liz Townsend slammed the scheme, saying officers had not adequately considered the council’s policies in the recently published Local Plan Part 2. This included water quality and proper disposal of sewage on an already overburdened system. Cranleigh had taken 1,700 new homes, and the water and sewage issues concerned residents, including many objectors. She didn’t mention if the scheme had been considered in 2021 or even 2022; the scheme was included in The Cranleigh Neighbourhood Plan but pulled out because Waverley Planners had pushed other schemes ahead of it, despite being lodged much later, such as 38 homes on the David Manns Site in Cranleigh High Sreet. What is going on at Waverley Towers? Favouring developers – surely not?
Despite all the Cranleigh councillor’s protestations about water quality, or the lack of water or sewage capacity, there was no objection from Thames Water or Surrey Highways concerning the access.
Cllr Townsend is the Portfolio Holder for Planning – why didn’t she seek the information required from officers recommending the scheme? Perhaps she thought pushing it into the long grass or the Cranleigh waters for a few more months; a new council would turn it down flat?
Cllr Steve Cosser and Cllr Michael Goodridge claimed the scheme should be approved in outline, and other issues should be addressed when the detailed planning application was considered later. Cllr Townsend’s concerns were not planning issues,
“It is impertinence to say that we should defer this application so we can look at our policies again and come up with more reasons to refuse; there are no planning reasons to refuse this application and refusal will not stand up at any appeal” said Mr Goodridge.
Cllr Chris Howard called in the scheme but was absent from the meeting and is not seeking re-election.